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Jeff Sessions defends 'zero tolerance' immigration policy as 'legitimate, moral, and decent'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday refused to back down from his claims that "zero tolerance" policies for illegal immigration are the best way to prevent crime and economic exploitation in the U.S., NBC News reports.

Speaking to immigration judges in Falls Church, Virginia, Sessions defended the Trump administration's hard-line approach as "perfectly legitimate, moral, and decent." The "zero tolerance" policy that he announced earlier this year was partially dismantled after major blowback to the administration's separation of migrant families. Many children are still being held separate from their parents even months after President Trump signed an executive order ending the practice, as adults were uniformly prosecuted for illegal entry.

Sessions said the "zero tolerance" approach was an appropriate way to create consequences for migrants seeking to exploit Obama-era "incentives." But while "a lot of those crossing our borders are leaving a difficult life," he said, "asylum was never meant to provide escape from all the problems people face every day around the world." The attorney general also alleged that migrants lie about fears they face in their home countries in order to remain in the U.S.

"No great and prosperous nation can have both a generous welfare system and great prosperity, and open borders," said Sessions. "Such a policy is radical, it's dangerous." Read more at NBC News.